If you stayed up to watch the conclusion of the College Football Playoff Championship between Alabama and Clemson, you were treated to some of the very best in athletic competition.
By now you probably know that Clemson is coached by Dabo Swinney, and Clemson defeated the favored Alabama Crimson Tide. I do not know much about the coach, but he appears to be a man of character, humility, passion and commitment to his players.
In his postgame comments on national television, he said, "I told my team tonight that the difference in the game would be the love they have for one another."
Most coaches talk about winning and losing coming down to turnovers, or execution, or winning all three phases of the game, or third-down efficiency, or field position, or some other metric.
But love for one another as the ultimate difference in a football game?
The Bible makes the case for love from Genesis to Revelation. Remember the two greatest commands, "Love the Lord your God," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."
They are stated, re-stated, and illustrated throughout the Bible. According to God, they are the two greatest, and they both involve love.
Researching Coach Swinney, we find that love was his theme all year with the team. Swinney borrowed from the Bible and Jesus and it all came together Monday night for the Clemson Tigers.
But consider a word of caution: Love can make a difference in a sporting event, but love does not guarantee a championship or even a win.
Remember, love ultimately cost Jesus his own life. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NIV).
We love one another because God is love and He commands us to love. It is the primary mark of those who follow Jesus.
So congratulations to Coach Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. They pursued the noble attribute of loving one another, and this time they got a result worth remembering.